|Summer at the Seashore|
|Written by Eric Vermeiren|
|Tuesday, 29 May 2012 17:25|
Memorial Day weekend marked the unofficial start to summer and nothing quite tastes like summer in the Mid-Atlantic like a good crabcake sandwich.
So as I sat in Bay Bridge traffic peering over the edge of the railing, I wondered how those spindly critters were doing below the water's surface.
Turns out the famous blue crab is actually doing pretty well, but the overall health of the Bay is not. The Bay is in the midst of a baby blue crab boom, according to scientists, who've estimated the population of juvenile crabs to be the highest since such estimates began in the 1950s ... great news for lovers of crispy crustaceans (aka Maryland's official state food).
But as blue crabs rebound, the Bay's overall health grade has been downgraded to an unflattering "D+". In an annual report card devised by the University of Maryland's Center for Environmental Science and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration unfavorable weather capped by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee were to blame for the especially low marks, overpowering any improvements in efforts to reduce the pollution that may have been witnessed.
Last year's weather patterns contained particularly strong precipitation which washed more nutrients and mud into the water, while a dry, hot summer spurred algae blooms and increased the size of the bay's oxygen-starved "dead zone." The hurricane, followed by the tropical storm's torrential rains, turned the upper bay a milky brown with sediment and has led to current water clarity that is the worst it's ever been, continuing a long-term decline.
The Chesapeake is the largest estuary in the country and remains one of the richest ecological tidal zones in the world, but it needs more assistance from those who live in its watershed. Click HERE to learn how you can get involved with tree and riparian buffer plantings, and oyster restoration and gardening through the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.
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